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Mumbai: Covid-19 on the rise but city still slow on testing

Updated on: 12 April,2023 08:08 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Suraj Pandey |

Other pathology tests taking over 48 hours; many reports have been issued incomplete despite the wait

Mumbai: Covid-19 on the rise but city still slow on testing

Health officials have been asked to increase testing amid rising cases. File pic

AMID the rise in Covid cases in the city, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) chief Iqbal Singh Chahal took stock of the preparations on Tuesday and directed health officials to increase testing.  However, a visit to dispensaries and HBT clinics revealed that many are still awaiting Covid testing kits. Other pathology tests are also taking more than 48 hours and patients are not getting complete reports even after the wait. Civic health workers are unhappy about the situation as they have no valid answers when patients ask them for reports but refrain from being vocal to avoid facing a backlash from their superiors.

On April 4, mid-day carried a story (Cases rising, screening ordered, but no test kits) about the order issued to dispensaries and HBT clinics to increase Covid testing. However, Krsnaa Diagnostics, tasked with providing Covid testing kits to civic health centres under the Aapli Chitkitsa scheme, failed to supply Covid test kits. Following the story, the BMC directed them again to provide kits to all dispensaries. A week later, several dispensaries still don't have any testing kits.

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A visit to several clinics in the city and suburbs found some dispensaries in Dahisar, Dharavi, Tardeo, Colaba and CSMT areas don't have Covid testing kits. “Even we are frustrated with the new service provider. Patients ask us for their reports and some even argue. The reports are coming in parts and we don’t even get a soft copy. It takes 48 hours or sometimes even more. A lot needs to be improved in the services. We have received orders for Covid testing but no kits have been provided so far,” said a health official. Krsnaa Diagnostics replied to a show cause notice by civic authorities stating that they are working at full strength to fulfil the terms and conditions but will need some more time.

On March 17, mid-day carried a story (Mumbai: Infections on the rise, but detections halt) highlighting how pathology services under Aapli Chikitsa had come to a complete standstill for 11 days despite viral infections being on the rise. The services resumed after the story and Chahal held a meeting on the same day and assured that the issues will be resolved by March 27. There has been some improvement in the services by Krsnaa Diagnostics. However, they are unable to provide reports within 24 hours as mandated.

Staff at the dispensaries and hospitals said there has been an improvement in services as compared to March, but it takes 48 to 72 hours for reports. Speaking to mid-day, Krsnaa Diagnostics co-founder and managing director, Pallavi Jain said, “The previous service provider was providing services till March 4 and we were informed that we have to start from March 6. We had planned to start in a phased manner but were told to start full services in one go.” 

According to Jain, they have to collect samples three times a day as compared to one collection done by the previous service provider. They are also running evening OPDs and are providing services at more than 300 locations. “There were issues from March 6 to 10 but now things have been streamlined and we are following instructions of the BMC. Everything will be under control by the end of this month,” Jain said, adding that the dispensaries will be stocked with Covid kits. The project covers 16 states at present and is being digitised through apps.

Additional Municipal Commissioner Dr Sanjeev Kumar said “We had a meeting with the service provider on Tuesday. There has been an improvement in the services and they have asked for some more time. We are constantly reviewing the service provided. The Covid test kits will be available at all dispensaries soon.”

48-72 hrs
Time taken for reports

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